About the Tent: yesterday and today
The tent was organized with 15 charter members on February 13, 1917. This was two years before the Department. Mrs. Lula Carlin, Past National President, presided at that first meeting. It was held at 2904 Meredith Ave, the home of Mrs. Mabel Stoddard. Mrs. Stoddard would be Tent President the first two years. The next Tent President was Mrs. Myrtle Dion, who also became the first Department President in 1919. The first tent name was Anna Schamel Tent No. 1, being named for Mrs. Jacob Schamel of Omaha who died in a fire in 1899. Mrs. Schamel had been a member of seven patriotic organizations, many of which were associated with the GAR. Within a few months the name was changed to Betsy Ross Tent No. 1.
Early meetings were held twice a month in Memorial Hall up on the fifth floor of the Douglas County Court House. This was the meeting place for many years. Early fundraisers included card parties and bazaars, and aid was given to veterans and to others in need. During World War I the tent formed a Red Cross Auxiliary; and again worked with the Red Cross in WW II. At one time the tent officers wore satin capes on special occasions. Activities included marching in parades. An old member of Jennie Wade Tent #28 of Omaha, which merged with Betsy Ross Tent #1 in 1978, remembered their members putting out the flags in cemeteries for Memorial Day in earlier days.
Tent #1 participated in the big “100th Wedding Anniversary” observance of Gen. and Mrs. George Crook at Fort Omaha on September 22, 1984. The tent took part in the Re-dedication of the GAR monument at the GAR Circle in Forest Lawn Cemetery June 14, 1991, after a decade of cleaning the headstones and other work which was aided by various volunteer groups and individuals. A 75thAnniversary Tea celebration was held on June 20, 1992.
The tent has published several booklets, which include:
· “History of the Daughters of Union Veterans of the Civil War 1861-1865” , 1976 + reissues. This history correlates with a chapter in the 1978 Department History.
· “75 years: The History of Betsy Ross Tent No. 1, 1917-1992″, 1994.
· ” Members’ Pot Luck & Refreshments Recipes, and Civil War Foods”, 1994.
· “Civil War Ancestors of Members of Betsy Ross Tent #1”, 1997. A copy of this booklet has been donated to the National DUV Museum in Springfield, Illinois.
Currently 90 members, the tent supports the National DUV in its many causes, as well as the Department and the Department Presidents’ Projects. Donations are also made locally. Items such as sweaters and jackets and other requested articles have been taken to the Thomas Fitzgerald Veterans Home. Members put in volunteer hours, including at the VA Medical Center and the Veterans Home. Several members volunteer in the Genealogy Room of the Omaha Public Library. Preparations are being made to turn over some of the old tent records and scrapbooks to the Douglas County Historical Society. The tent donates a Civil War book to a different library each year, and gives a flag annually to a scout or other group. Patriotism is promoted. Items and activities of Civil War interest always come up. One member is a member of the 1st Nebraska Reenactors. One member is on the Board of Directors of the Nebraska City GAR Hall foundation. On Memorial Day a wreath is placed as part of the American Legion Service at Forest Lawn Cemetery, and a Ceremony is read at the GAR Circle in remembrance of the Civil War veterans.